It was a sunny Saturday. The man had a full tank of diesel, a 60-inch deck, sharp blades and an acre of lawn before him. As he cranked up the mower and engaged the blades, he was no longer a mere mortal- he was Lawn King, ruling from his Kubota throne. Mowing was such a wonderfully solitary exercise. A million blades of grass that needed tending, him the lord and master of them all, and no distractions. This is why there are no passenger seats on a mower; there can be but one king.
Away up on the sun porch, a wife dusted and vacuumed and fussed with flowers and chair cushions. She had her back to the yard and couldn’t hear anything above the noise of the vacuum. She couldn’t see the king out there on his zero-turn throne, giving her a parade wave each lap, as if passing in review.
Out on the grass, Lawn King imagined himself in a national competition, stands filled with cheering spectators as he flawlessly broke records for speed, precision and artistry. Finishing an intricate slalom along the curves of the flower bed, he swung a little too close to the garage and the mower deck clipped a huge ceramic planter the wife had just repotted out on the sidewalk.
The crowds hushed and faded away as the planter cracked top to bottom and a $50 plant nearly tumbled to certain death on the hot concrete. A look of horror came over the husband as he surveyed the disaster. Despite being Lawn King, he was decidedly of lesser rank when it came to flowers, shrubs and potted plants. The husband winced and immediately looked up on the porch to see if his wife had witnessed the incident. Thankfully, her back was still to him, now down on her knees, vacuuming under the furniture. His chances at supper, at love, at world peace, hung in the balance. His mind raced. All she would have to do would be to turn around and look, and the game would be up. Danger crackled in the air like static electricity.
Boldness was his only option. He leaped off the mower and scooped up what felt like 500 pounds of cracked pottery, potting soil and plant, and sat it on the flat floorboard of the mower. Scrambling for a broom, he swept off all debris as if nothing was amiss. He remembered an identical ceramic planter pot out behind the garden shed and drove around there with the wreckage of pottery and plant somewhat reassembled between his legs. All she would have to do was look up to see her prized plant and hard work go motoring slowly by out on the lawn. But she didn’t, engrossed in her chores. He quickly repotted and replanted the little $50 whatever it was in the extra pot and put it back in place of the original. He cast a side-eye glance towards the porch. She was still up there cleaning and hadn’t noticed a thing. His elaborate deception had worked to perfection. As he wiped a bead of sweat off his nose and exhaled, he smiled and added another title to his resume: Master of Deception.
He stashed the broken pottery in the bed of his truck under a tarp, to be hauled off later like dumping a body. Pleased, he whistled to himself as he parked the mower in the garage and wondered what the wife had made for lunch.
At that moment, that very wife came outside with a sprinkler can in hand. She went straight for the replacement pot but stopped and stood back to look at it with a hand on hip, puzzled. Something was amiss, but she couldn’t quite tell what. As she went about watering her other plants and hanging baskets, she stopped now and again and frowned, scratching at her neck. Something was just not right. It was, of course, the pot itself. It had been bright red just a few minutes ago, but was now decidedly avocado green. Her husband came walking up just then and she asked if he remembered the pot being red. He shrugged his shoulders innocently, grabbed her around the waist, pulled her to him, and kissed her on the neck. She pulled back but there was a twinkle in her eye and the day was saved for Lawn King.
Late that night, a wife sat bolt upright in bed and shook her husband awake. She told him she had figured out what was amiss with that plant. Distracted, she must have chosen the wrong ceramic pot. She laughed at her mistake as she kissed her husband goodnight. Last thing she said before falling back into blissful slumber was for him to go fetch the red one first thing next morning.